#1075 "the one with all the grat words"

January 16th, 2013, 5:29 pm

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Reply NtKGar, January 16th, 2013, 5:39 pm

A reader asked in the comments recently if Neko and Maisy are ever going to die or if they're cartoon immortal a la Garfield.

It's one of those things that I can't really speak directly to as an author. Whatever's going to happen in the comic will happen in the comic. Odds are at least one of you will be able to guess correctly what that's going to be. It'd be bad form not to let you keep guessing right up to the last moment.

I'm partially in it for the guessing myself. The heart of Neko the Kitty's existence is that it's a work in progress. I have a good idea of what's going to happen over the next couple of years, but sometimes stuff happens on the page that can change all that.

Take Sidekick Man, for example. He was originally just a goofy-looking guy in the strip about swine flu (can't find it
now, this is going back to when the strip was in black and white). Then he showed up again at the very start of the McJefferstein story as the target of one of Jeff's pranks. He popped up a couple of times in the background of that story, his preoccupation with lungs was quietly established, and you probably noticed him after that because he was bright red and kept yelling about his balls.

That's there in the archive. There's quite a lot I'd do differently with the stories in the Things Get Weird Omnibus if they were starting today, but in a project like this where you have to keep going, all mistakes are final. That's reflected in the strip and applies to the characters - Keno has the notch in his ear from the Catharsis crossover, Ellen has been in a wheelchair since 2005, Gar never did recover those 8 months worth of memory. Everything that happens in the strip (unless it's out of continuity or a fantasy sequence) stays happened.

If a major character were to die, not only does that affect every other major character, it also means you don't get to write that character any more. That's not a small choice for a writer to make. You're sacrificing all the stories you could have told with that character for the sake of telling the story of how they died.

What if Boromir hadn't died saving Sam and Frodo? Would he have stayed true to Aragorn and the Fellowship, or Would the ring have continued to call to him and corrupt him? What would he have said to Faramir? Would Faramir have even been written in? There was a moment when Boromir's honour failed, and he died before the opportunity arose for it to happen again. What else could have come of that moment?

Is it worth more to have the questions, or the answers?

Novelist Paul Anthony Shortt wrote a good blog article on this very topic a while ago. You can't just kill a character for no reason.

Anyway, the issue of death in the Nekoverse is moot until somebody dies "for realsies".

Reply Advertisement, September 22nd, 2017, 6:47 am

Reply NtKGar, January 16th, 2013, 5:46 pm

Also, as always, don't forget to vote to see Whitespace Neko's Peanut Gallery comment.

User's Comments:

Reply Someoneyoumightknow (Guest), January 16th, 2013, 5:47 pm

Shit, man, now I feel really guilty :P Though all of that stuff is really freaking valid. I get what you mean completely. Thanks for taking the time to answer all that, by the way. You're pretty good at this ^^.

Reply Havockitten, January 16th, 2013, 5:50 pm

Immortal kitties If it matters, I vote for them to stick around. After all, there's just so many fun stuff possible with Neko and Keno's opposing color schemes =3

also, my email seems to not put new messages from you guys at the top of my inbox, but instead just treats the whole thing as a "conversation", and adds the replies to the first email, so I have to go back and check the same one all the time. I don't know if it's the same on your side of things, or if you've just been too busy to get back to me. It's not a problem or anything, just thought I should alert you to the possibility of the whole "conversation" vs. new email thing, in case you hadn't gotten my messages.

I hope my future pet kitties are as amusing as these ones =3

Reply NtKGar, January 16th, 2013, 5:50 pm

Shit, now *I* feel really guilty! I just wrote a blog entry because I was enjoying the topic!

Treats! Treats for everybody!

Reply Someoneyoumightknow (Guest), January 16th, 2013, 6:09 pm

Oh. Huh. I am not the best with words. Or understanding things. Huh.

Reply Havockitten, January 16th, 2013, 8:55 pm

Yay treats! *scurries off to her cardboard box o' fun to nom her treats safely*

muahaha >^w^<

Reply Tehpikachu, January 16th, 2013, 9:04 pm

Oh yay! My cut of the treats!

Reply GabrielsThoughts, January 16th, 2013, 11:34 pm

I respectfully disagree. As a creator one can choose to destroy and reanimate the protagonist as ridiculously or creatively as one wants to.

Think of Poe, If you do it right you can make it as traumatic, silly, or asinine as you want it to be.

However, I find it ironic that Tintin happened to essentially die with his creator. That I am aware Curious George died from chloroform or that Garfield may have chosen to live in a fantasy world rather than starve to death in a bitter reality provides food for thought.

And, I might add, there's nothing stopping you from going back and retroactively re-imagining or fixing up the story except the desire to do so. Still, happy accidents, and coincidence are also a lot of fun to play with. Not to mention they are a fertile breeding ground of really good ideas.

Reply Sup (Guest), January 17th, 2013, 4:44 am

Curious George died of what now? Seriously? When did that happen?
Or are you just screwing with me :P.

Though Herge did actually die halfway through writing the next tintin book. I mean, he could've officially ended Tintin in Tintin in the Picaros, but to end Tintin, he would have to admit that he was gonna die and had nothing left to live for, which would've sucked.

Oh, and is Keno really having daddy issues? He's the last person I'd expect to have that. I mean, I know Neko is a sucky dad, but still.

Reply NtKGar, January 17th, 2013, 6:44 am

Having only a passing familiarity with Curious George, I'm going to go ahead and take it as canon that he died of chloroform poisoning.

I'm not going to research it because the internet has ruined too many beautiful lies already.

The Garfield story GabrielsThoughts is talking about is pretty infamous amongst cartoonists. The series 'Digger' by Ursula Vernon has a similar hook where it's hinted that the epic fantasy adventure is actually the protagonist's delusions as she slowly suffocates to death deep underground. The series won the Hugo award for Best Graphic Story in 2012, check it out http://www.diggercomic.com/

I used to really like Tintin when I was a kid. I didn't have many of the books, but the cartoons were great. They're on Netflix now, and haven't aged too badly. Which, of course, is more than we can say for Herge.

Still, his work survives, which is what being an artist is all about.

The recent Tintin movie is on Netflix too, and is actually a lot better than I expected it to be. Didn't go see it in the cinema because I find highly-realistic performance-capture CGI a bit offputting, but it's well worth the watch on Netflix. There are some absolutely incredible chase sequences.

I actually don't know why I had low expectations of it. It's directed by Steven Spielberg and the script is by Steven Moffat, Edgar Wright and Joe Cornish.

Reply Guest, January 17th, 2013, 7:17 am

Huh, I remember that Garfield strip I was young when I read it at the time, so I didn't think much of it. Was that really what Jim Davis ws trying to hint at? O_O

Reply RoboKitty, January 17th, 2013, 8:31 am

@NtKGar: I always thought that the notch in Keno's ear was put there so we could better tell the difference between Neko and Keno when the strip was in black and white. All we had to begin with was eye shape...

Reply NtKGar, January 17th, 2013, 9:22 am

That's originally what it was for alright. It became redundant as a marker once colour was introduced, and Keno now has longer ears than Neko and pointy face-cheeks to set them apart in line art, but the notch in his ear is still there because it's a scar and those don't just go away :)

Reply Sup (Guest), January 17th, 2013, 10:51 am

Thanks for recommending Digger, by the way I'm halfway through it, and it is really good. Still no sign of Digger's fantasy being a hallucination, though. I guess that means it's one helluva spoiler >_<

EDIT: I'm about 530 pages in. Out of all the novels I've read in my entire life, this is probably in the top 5. Damn this is good.

Reply Niflare (Guest), January 17th, 2013, 12:02 pm

Immortal kitties. considering what happened to Poe in the whole McJefferstien capers, yet poe as we saw a short time ago, is still around, it's not hard to imagine you can easily bullshit yourself out of main characters dieing if you want. Look at bob and George.... i think every character but bob and maybe george in that cast died at least 4 times through its run.

and there's always the "cats have 9 lives" thing you can pull in the comic. i mean they do have magic in that world as seen by Poe, Lobster and Poe's mistress.

Reply NtKGar, January 17th, 2013, 1:53 pm

Well that's the thing, I've had characters die and come back already, but it's always been immediate. They're revealed to have not really died in the very next strip.

Killing a character in such a way that they *stay* dead is an entirely different matter (and the alternate-timeline Alices from that one story don't count).

Best example that I can think of of a long-running series handling the death of an established character was in Buffy the Vampire Slayer. If you know the show, you know the episode I'm talking about.

Reply Licourtrix, January 17th, 2013, 5:22 pm

The way I understood the Garfield thing was just a one off to mess with the readership. They got tired of the punchlines and said one day "what happens if we make a series of strips with no punchline. Maybe on a theme of what REALLY scares Garfield" That was being alone. Forever.

Killing a character and keeping them dead (even for a little while) is a tough thing I agree. Most comics/movies/shows save it for last. Otherwise it gets kinda boring knowing that killed off man can come back from the dead (TNG handled it expertly with its dimension jumping to when Tasha Yar was alive.) I think its perfectly alright to explore that in a comic, but at a whim? I wouldn't do it. If comics and animation have taught me anything its that our favorite characters can stay as young or old, as alive or dead, as silly or stupid, or intelligent as they want and still be entertaining. (right Simpsons?)

As for Buffy, they handled death and (sometimes rebirth) excellently. I wish I knew how far in advance some of them were planned (Angel's Death and Rebirth, Buffy's at the end of season 5 and its consquences, Joyce's, Spikes death at the end and rebirth in Angel)

Reply Guest, January 17th, 2013, 5:32 pm

Alright, one last question on the topic of Digger... Firstoff...finished it. All of it. Almost made me cry. Out of all the protagonists to kill off...but I didn't see the part which hints at delusions. I mean, it was one of the most incredible stories I've ever read, but what part hinted at delusions?

Reply Ayu (Guest), January 18th, 2013, 8:12 am

If If Neko were to die, I could totally see him coming back to haunt everybody just to be an ass. Meanwhile, the fish would haunt him with "I have come to take you on a spiritual journey". XP I love my random thoughts.

Reply Agen (Guest), January 18th, 2013, 12:46 pm

While it would be somewhat curious into seeing if Maisy or one of the other felines die acidently or age (in which time probably hasn't passed that quickly). We'd pretty much have to wait to see...

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